Philadelphia residents worried about police delays after skateboarder dies in East Mt. Airy

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – There are new questions about the ability of the Philadelphia Police Department to respond to crime and other serious incidents in the city.

The concerns follow a fatal crash this week that was not investigated until the driver himself went to police to report it.

Neighbors are still a bit shaken up after a skateboarder was hit by a car on Chew and Durham streets in East Mt. Airy on Monday evening.

“She said the man was on the ground, he was hit. I don’t know who he was or where he came from,” said Deanna Jackson of Mount Airy.

Police said the victim was shot around 6 p.m. Doctors rushed him to the hospital where he later died.

Many fear that the police have never intervened on the scene.

“I really don’t understand why it is taking so long. I understand that this is a less criminal area, but we also need help,” Jackson said.

Like others, Richard Maggio says his wife called 911.

“She called as soon as we heard her and they just put her on hold and transferred her. She was never really able to talk to anyone and give them exact contact details,” said Maggio from East Mt. Airy.

Philadelphia Police say this was not a problem with the shortages of expedition personnel; an issue that Action News has covered in the past. Police said it comes down to the priority of the call and who is available.

Police confirm that the driver involved stopped and waited at the scene for two hours. After waiting so long, he finally drove to the 14th arrondissement and reported the accident.

He didn’t want to speak on camera, but said police told him there was an increase in high priority incidents and he was changing shifts.

“Philadelphia has a lot of trouble with shots and everything so I guess the response time wasn’t up to par,” said James Gilliam of East Mt. Airy.

“I was shocked, really shocked. They’re supposed to answer when you call,” said Marylin Gilliam of East Mt. Airy.

Police confirm on the day of the incident that they had no agent available to respond to a car accident, and all other officers were involved in higher priority calls. Those who live in the neighborhood say it is gunshots or a traffic incident, they want the officers to react quickly.

“It’s just sad, I guess. Someone should always be available,” Maggio said.

This case is still under investigation. Officers say no matter how long it takes, unless you are concerned about your safety, if you are involved in an incident, you must remain on the scene until officers arrive.

A law enforcement source told Action News the department is under strain due to Covid-19 and retirements.

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